High energy

OECD Observer

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If governments stick with the policies in force as of mid-2004, the world’s energy needs will be almost 60% higher in 2030 than they are now, requiring a cumulative global investment of over $500 billion. This is the sobering message of the latest World Energy Outlook 2004, published by the International Energy Agency (IEA), a sister organisation of the OECD. However, the projected rate of demand growth, at 1.7%, is slower than the average of the past three decades of 2%.

Two-thirds of this increase in demand will come from the developing countries. While developing access to modern energy sources in the poorest areas of the world is essential for global poverty reduction, little progress will be made in reducing the total number of people who lack access to electricity.

Fossil fuels will continue to dominate global energy use, accounting for 85% of the increase in world primary energy demand. And while the Earth’s energy resources are far from being exhausted, less certain is how much it will cost to extract and deliver them to consumers, calling into question the sustainability of the current energy system.

The World Energy Outlook presents an alternative policy scenario to demonstrate that by using policies to address environmental and energy-security concerns already being considered, together with faster deployment of clean technology, it may be possible to reduce pressures from energy demand and emissions, and so create a more environmentally-friendly future.

©OECD Observer No 245, November 2004

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